Okay, so last Monday I went home on my own because Kendal was off doing something else. We have this little cafe with a green sign that we use as our reference point to get off the bus. However, it was really hard to see out of the S-bahn windows because it was dark and raining so hard. I saw a green sign, got out, realized I was at the wrong stop, but at that point, the S-bahn had left me. So I stood in the rain and got soaking wet while I waited for the next one. Turns out my stop was the next one, so I could have just walked... But it was pretty funny!
Last Wednesday, our group left on a five day bus trip to Salzburg, Munich, Haag, and other places. Our first stop was Mauthausen. Mauthausen was a concentration camp during WWII, and was intended to cause "death by labor." The prisoners in Mauthausen were starved, living on only an average of 250 calories per day. During the day the prisoners were forced to work in a huge rock quarry, carrying the rocks up an enormous staircase, as they were pushed beyond their limits by the guards. Going to Mauthausen was a very sobering experience. I cannot even begin to comprehend what the prisoners here had to suffer and endure, it is truly terrible. As I walked where these tortured prisoners walked, I felt sorrow and complete horror for what these people had experienced. How can humans be so cruel to one another? We watched a video before touring the concentration camp, and at one point it was describing the graffiti on the prison walls. One prisoner had written, "If there is a God, He is going to have to beg for my forgiveness." How truly heartbreaking. What these prisoners had to endure would no doubt shake their faith in a higher being. They had to wonder what kind of God could let such cruel things occur. Sometimes it's hard to remember that our Heavenly Father sent each and everyone of us to earth to exercise our agency, whether for good or evil. Our Heavenly Father loves every single one of those people who endured the tortures at Mauthausen, and I know he wept at the treatment of his precious children. I fervently believe that He welcomed and embraced them in his arms, praising their strength for what they suffered. I will never even be able to begin to imagine the pains and sufferings of the Mauthausen prisoners, but I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ who died for us so that we could live with Him again.
|A memorial to those who died at Mauthausen|
|The rock quarry. It would be beautiful but for the horrific events that occurred here.|
|The prisoners were forced to carry every stone up these stairs, |
though they were sick and starved
After Mauthausen, our trip destinations were of a lighter caliber. We went to Salzburg and visited some of the sites where Sound of Music was filmed. We got to see where Maria was married, in Mondsee Cathedral. We also saw the gazebo where Rolfe and Leisl sang "I Am Sixteen," and the front of the "Von Trap" house, as well as some of the sites where Maria and the children sang "Do-Re-Mi." It was pretty great!
In Salzburg, we went to Hellbrunn Castle. When the castle was built, it was built with all kinds of "water pranks." For example, there was a stone table in the gardens with stone chairs surrounding it. But, there were holes in the chairs where water could be squirted through, so if you sat on the chair, you could quite possibly get a very wet butt. Frau Schauer warned us about that before we went there, but a few of our group members sat on the chairs anyway, it was great! Pretty sure, I would have been best friends with these people if I had lived back then!
After Hellbrunn Castle, we went to Obersalzburg Castle. It fulfilled my lifelong dream of visiting a castle (Hellbrunn didn't look so much like a castle to me). I got some great pictures, and the view from the castle was fantastic.
We went on a walking tour of the Mirabell gardens. The gardens are super pretty. After Obersalzburg we went back to the gardens, and there was an orchestra playing a concert. They were really good, and it was nice to just relax and listen to them play.
|The inside of Mondsee Cathedral|
|The water chairs at Hellbrunn!|
|"Von Trap" family house|
|Mirabell Gardens, some scenes from Sound of Music were filmed here!|
|Probably the prettiest cemetery I have ever been to|
|View from Obersalzburg|
After Salzburg we went to a hotel in Irschenberg, Germany. It was in the countryside and it was so beautiful! Refreshing after being in the city for a while! Irshcenberg is about an hour away from Munich, so that's where we went on Friday. We went to the Deutsches Museum (the most visited museum in Germany). It was pretty interesting, but it was all very technical. The one thing I loved was the satellites and computers showing the weather in different areas. It was pretty neat.
In Munich we also got to see the world's largest Glockenspiel. Not quite as interesting as I had hoped, but it was still pretty cool.
Oh! And I bought a dirndl in Munich. A dirndl is a traditional Austrian/German dress. About half of the girls in our group bought one, and we toured Herrenchimsee Palace in them. They are way cute!
|Our hotel in Irschenberg|
|At our hotel in Irschenberg, wearing my dirndl!|
|At the Deutsches Museum|
|The Rathaus and Glockenspiel|
On Saturday we took a ferry and went to Herrenchiemsee Island and toured the palace. Our professor actually conducted the tour. Turns out he spent four months doing tour guides there when he was younger! The palace was beautiful, but we weren't allowed to take pictures which is a shame.
After Herrenchiemsee we went to Eagle's Nest in the Alps. Oh my goodness the view was PHENOMENAL! I could have stayed up there for hours just enjoying weather and the beauty of the mountains. It's definitely my favorite place I've been so far.
|Half of the group getting ready for the ferry ride|
Haag was my favorite place we stayed our whole trip. It's a small country town in Austria, and it was beautiful.
This study abroad experience is seriously the best ever. I'm so happy and grateful to be here! I'll try to keep my future posts shorter, with less writing and more pictures! Enjoy :)